Wherever construction or demolition takes place, a review of the Nature Protection Act is required. Are there any protected animal or plant species in the immediate vicinity? And is sufficient account taken of them? Martin de Jong of ecological consultancy Noordkop Groen deals with these questions on a daily basis. As an ecologist, De Jong is involved in the reconstruction of the Postweg.
'We then start with a quick scan of the Nature Protection Act. This is primarily a behind-the-desk study, combined with a field visit. Based on existing databases, we find out whether protected species occur in the area.' We also look at the location in relation to protected areas.
Keys and eDNA
The main source for this, according to De Jong, is the National Database on Flora and Fauna (NDFF). This stores all validated observations made by volunteers. "That information showed that the root vole might occur in the area. The next step was then a physical track survey, where we literally check the corridors of mice and look for vole droppings. Those poop samples are examined in the lab for DNA present. 'In the end it turned out, among other things, that the intersections of the Postweg with the Hollandseweg and the Oorsprongweg are home to root voles. This species of mouse likes wetness and you usually find them in slopes of ditches.'
To obtain permission for construction or demolition, the initiator must demonstrate that no animals and plants listed in the Nature Protection Act are present in the immediate vicinity. In principle, this applies to almost all construction projects, large and small. Ecologists investigate the surroundings and give advice. If there are no peculiarities or adequate measures have been taken, exemption is granted. De Jong's advice was included in the exemption issued to the municipality by the provincial North Holland North Environment Service for the work.
Nature Protection Act
Protected plant species were not found, according to De Jong. The root vole is on the list of the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality. This is an overview of animal species that have disappeared or are in danger of disappearing from the Netherlands. The root vole is endangered in the Netherlands, but is still fairly common on Texel. Yet the species is also under pressure here, says De Jong. "Introduced species such as ruddy vole and earth mouse are driving the root vole out of drier areas.
When reconstructing the Post Road, the municipality has a monitoring obligation. This means that one year after the completion of the work, it must be investigated whether the root voles are still occurring in the places where they were found or in a compensation site created for them in the vicinity.
The reconstruction of Nieuwlanderweg, which was completed last spring, also involved that obligation. This spring, De Jong conducted monitoring there on behalf of the municipality. 'Along that stretch, the ditch slope had to be excavated and shifted in two places, providing another spot for the mice.' On the ecologist's advice, a pool was created on a vacant piece of land near the Pijpersdijk/De Staart intersection with grassland and a raised area to allow the voles to hibernate dry. "The monitoring showed a good result: it is teeming with root voles! According to De Jong, this result is remarkable. 'We know that root voles like wetness, but previously they were not found in the area where the new pool is now located. They did south of the Pijpersdijk and north of the Oude Dijkje, but not here.'
Monitoring for the final section of the Post Road will take place in the spring of 2024.